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Driven: BMW 530i

Driven November 2017

Driven: BMW 530i

There was a time when the newer generation of a car used to have more power, bigger engine, more space, more cylinders than the outgoing generation. Now, the engine size and cylinder count have reduced, but what’s getting bigger an in-car interface screens. And the new BMW 5 series has an all new, bigger 10.25-inch screen. This is what platform-code enthusiasts call the G30, which replaces the F10 that arrived in India in 2010. The irony is that it’s the F10’s predecessor, the era of the E60 (and 3-series E90) that introduced all the controversial features – Chris Bangle’s flame-surfaced design, run-flat tyres, and the one feature that had the world up in arms – iDrive. BMW were the first to replace multiple buttons with one screen and one jog dial. And after the world criticised, the world also promptly went and copied it.

While the E60 was a thorough driver’s car, the G30 comes into an era where the size and quality of your car interface screen matters more than how your car drives. The 530i drives okay. But is not a patch on Ultimate Driving Machines from the past. And as is the wont these days, the 530i is not a 2.5, or 3-litre, straight-six. It’s a 2-litre four-cylinder entry level petrol that costs the same as the entry level 520d diesel – Rs 49.90 lakh. At 248bhp, power is on par with a car like this. There’s also the 520i with the same engine making about 180bhp. A car BMW hasn’t brought in to India, yet.

If you have any hopes of the 530i being a driver’s car with a talkative steering, immediate reactions, well, your hopes are dashed. The 530i is none of all that. It steers decently, handles well, rides well and brakes well. You must have heard of cars that you sit in and sit on. Well, the old E60 was neither. It was a car you wore and it was a car that moved with you. Ever since the last gen F10, BMW 5s haven’t been those cars and the latest generation continues with that trend.

Ride quality is even better than before and this is one aspect BMW have made massive strides in. Over some very sharp ruts, the 5’s suspension becomes momentarily loud, but 99 percent of bumps, potholes and horrendous surfaces are dismissed off without your spine knowing much about it. The petrol engine is rather smooth, and with the turbos, make an average 350Nm of pulling power. But that 350Nm of surge remains from 1450 to 4800rpm. So no. For a 2-litre, four-cylinder engine, the 530i is by no means a slow car taking just 6.4 seconds to get to a 100kph. Much quicker than the 520d’s 8 seconds. More importantly it brakes just under two metres earlier thanks to being 20kgs lighter than 520d. Of course, there’s the usual latest fancy stuff like gesture controlled iDrive, and the keyfob with a touchscreen embedded into it.

The 530i is a rather competent car. But also a tad boring. There is no driver engagement. There is no free-revving, smooth engine, but there is a lot of comfort and luxury, and lot of tech to play with. Ultimately, you’d buy it for the badge. Otherwise, there’s nothing that engaging in a 530i over the cheaper Skoda Superb.
bmw 530i


1998cc, 4cyl turbopetrol, 248bhp, 350Nm, 8A, RWD, 1615kgs, price: Rs 49.9 lakh, 0-100kph: 6.4 seconds, 80-0kph: 23.1m 2.2 seconds, 30-50kph: 1.9 seconds, 50-70kph: 1.8 seconds.

Verdict: Comfortable, quality, tech-laden sedan that’s boring to drive

Sriram Narayanan

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